Virtualisation has been around for donkey’s years. In fact, it first began making waves in the 1960s, long before computers were available in the mainstream marketplace and before the internet came about.
When it first entered the IT world, virtualisation was used to describe processes where users split system resources on computers for different use-cases. Of course, the concept of virtualisation has evolved considerably since then, and virtualisation software is now very widely used as a method of easing workloads by making use of scalable computers and systems.
Creating virtual machines running on the same hardware is something that can be very useful to developers and other tech professionals for software testing purposes. With virtualisation solutions, you can also access virus-infected data, run older apps and back up operating systems. Let’s take a look at some of the best virtualisation software on the market right now.
1. Parallels Desktop for Mac
Run Windows on your Mac computer
Platforms: Mac | Storage available: 500GB online backup | Security/data protection: Yes | Free trial: 14-day
Runs Windows apps on your Mac
Has advanced security in place
Setup can be time-consuming
Using Parallels Desktop, you can run the Windows operating system on your Mac without the need to reboot your system. This product is sold as a software package that you install onto your Apple computer – once you’ve got it up and running, you’ll be able to run Windows apps as though they were native to Apple’s MacOS.
You can run popular Windows apps such as Microsoft Office, QuickBooks and indeed make use of the virtual assistant Cortana (if you’ve got sick of Siri). It has been optimised for Windows 10 and macOS Sierra, and you also get 500GB of online backup storage for apps you run on the software. The Business Edition has advanced security measures in place, too.
2. VMware Horizon 7
A powerful virtualisation platform
Platforms: Windows, Linux | Storage available: No additional storage | Security/data protection: Yes | Free trial: Yes
Easy to implement virtualisation
Secures user data
Licensing costs aren’t cheap
Horizon 7 from VMware is one of the broader virtualisation platforms out there. If you use a variety of virtual desktops, applications and services, you now have a way to manage them through a single workspace.
This software can work with any static desktop, and it’ll run them through a single virtualisation application to help you streamline operations. As well as this, Horizon can be used across different devices, locations, media and connections – meaning there’s little to tie you down or restrict you here.
Of course, if you plan on using different virtualisation platforms, it’s important to be aware of the security risks. With Horizon, you can protect the data of end users and track their actions to ensure they follow internal policies. VMware also claims that this software reduces storage and operational costs effectively.
3. Citrix XenDesktop
Software for all your virtualisation needs
Platforms: Windows, Linux | Storage available: No additional storage | Security/data protection: Yes | Free trial: 90-day
Manage applications via single console
Long free trial
No fixed pricing
XenDesktop is sold as a virtual desktop infrastructure product, developed for businesses looking to give their employees the freedom to work from anywhere and with any platform. Using it, you can use virtual Windows, Linux, web and SaaS applications easily, and there’s also the ability to install full virtual desktops on any device.
Another great thing about XenDesktop is that you can control virtualised apps and services via one console – it’s a nicely streamlined system. Citrix also employs HDX technologies with this product, not just to optimise the user experience, but also to elicit better performance in terms of decreasing bandwidth consumption.
This service benefits from an impressive free trial – it’s 90-days long, and allows for 99 users, no doubt giving you a good idea of what to expect before you make any commitment.
4. ZeroTier One
Create scalable virtual networks
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android | Storage available: No additional storage | Security/data protection: Yes | Free trial: Free software
Easy to create virtual networks
Comes with end-to-end encryption
Will be too limited for some
If you’re looking to create and join virtual networks within your business, then ZeroTier One could be for you. The software can work with most devices and applications, allowing for peer-to-peer communication using standard protocols such as TCP/IP.
When you purchase a new software solution, you can be forced to go through a long, complicated setup process. But there’s zero configuration with ZeroTier – the software will automatically discover new network paths wherever you happen to be, and will reconnect to networks if you undergo any connectivity changes.
ZeroTier has been developed with open source standards, and all networks used within the software are encrypted end-to-end, with new devices being vetted against cryptographic authentication procedures and certificates.
5. Boot Camp
Switch between Windows and Mac
Platforms: Mac | Storage available: No additional storage | Security/data protection: N/A | Free trial: Free software
Lets you dual-boot Windows and Mac
Completely free to use
No virtual OS option
Apple’s Boot Camp isn’t a typical virtualisation service like the others we’ve examined here, but it’s worth mentioning. While it won’t let you set up a fully-functioning virtual desktop or system, it will let you boot up both Windows and Mac on the same computer.
Instead of replicating a fully working operating system, the software sets up a partition so you can install a physical copy of Windows on your Mac’s hard drive. Do note, however, that to switch between operating systems, you’ll need to restart your computer – which isn’t hugely convenient. Still, this is a handy and completely free feature for those who want to use both Windows and Mac for work.